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Criminal Justice Reform

Criminal justice reform considers the management of the criminal justice system into the future. Work is underway to help shape a justice system that meets community expectations.

Criminal justice reform

Citizens expect a criminal justice system that meets community expectations, protects and supports victims, and acts quickly and effectively so that offenders face consequences in a timely manner. To do this, reform is required across the entire continuum of the criminal justice system: from police to prisons, victims of crime and witnesses, the legal profession, the judiciary, the courts and the parole board.

What's happening right now?

Improving information sharing

A number of measures aim to modernise and improve information sharing within the criminal justice sector.

The Summary Procedure (Service) Amendment Bill 2017, currently awaiting assent, aims to future-proof the criminal justice system by enabling information to be sent and served in more ways, and to keep pace with evolving technologies. This includes the electronic transfer of court documents, police-issued summons and the potential for new rules to allow online guilty pleas.

The Electronic Transactions (Legal Proceedings) Amendment Bill 2017, also awaiting assent, modifies the Electronic Transactions Act 2000, allowing broader use of electronic communications in legal proceedings.

Find out more about improving information sharing.

Youth Court legislation commenced 1 January 2017
The Statutes Amendment (Youth Court) Act 2016 commenced on 1 January 2017. The Act makes a number of changes that allow the Youth Court to operate in a more flexible manner. These changes allow magistrates to do more of the work of the Youth Court. The title of the principal judicial officer of the Youth Court has been changed from Senior Judge to Judge.

PDF icon Youth Court amendments factsheet (PDF 170.92 KB)
Sentencing Bill 2017
The Sentencing Bill 2017 passed Parliament on 6 July 2017. 

Under the new laws, courts will be able to impose two additional types of sentence: community-based orders and intensive correction orders. Intensive correction orders offer a further level of protection, while better supporting the rehabilitation of those offenders for whom a sentence of imprisonment is not considered appropriate.

In addition, the Bill gives judges and magistrates more guidance about how to prioritise considerations when sentencing offenders. They will have to place public safety first ­ with other factors such as rehabilitation, punishment, publicly denouncing an offender and holding them to account given secondary consideration.

Read more about the Sentencing Act review. 
Major indictable reform

The Summary Procedure (Indictable Offences) Amendment Act 2017  commences on 5 March 2018, and changes processes to support earlier resolution of major criminal matters.

Read more about  major indictable reform.